Augmented Reality + Tellagami = One Amazing Scavenger Hunt


Mrs. Marino’s 4th grade 

April will mark one year that I have been a connected educator. One year that I have been a Twitter addict. One year that my class has been flipped upside down. And it all started with augmented reality. I love it. It triggered my a-ha moment when I didn’t understand how Twitter could be so beneficial. I was begrudgingly scrolling through my Twitter feed late one night when I saw a post by Erin Klein about augmented reality. I did not have a clue what it was, but I could not sleep so I read. And I read. And I read some more. It blew my mind. I could not believe that you could do this. That I could do this. I could not believe that Erin was dong this with 2nd graders. So I sat right there (in the middle of the night) and taught myself how to use augmented reality. It looks really tricky and spectacular and people will think you are awesome…but it truly is doable. At that point I did not use tech at all. Unless you count streaming movies onto my SMART board. So, if I can teach myself augmented reality then I feel like anyone can. And you should. You should do it for your students. You want to see them come to life? This is the way. I have created some pretty cool lessons this year with augmented reality. I have been calling it “Learning in 3D” because to me it brings concepts to life for students. It engages them. It makes them excited. They love it. Check out past blogs for other ways I have utilized augmented reality in my classroom. But for now I am going to tell you about the scavenger hunt we did all thanks to Terri Eichholz. I thank you, and so do my students. We truly had a blast.

Here’s how it went down:

I knew I wanted to do an augmented reality scavenger hunt, but I could not wrap my mind around it. I believe we were on the #txeduchat twitter chat that Brad and Drew were hosting when the topic came up. Terri had great ideas and as always did not mind helping me. That’s the thing about your Twitter PLN, we are truly a team. We have one goal, and that is to make our students learning experiences as awesome as possible. I digress. Terri suggested I use the Tellagami app as the overlay (what pops up when you hover the iPad) for my auras. I went in and created 10 different teachers throughout our building a Tellagami. I made the phrases sound like them, the voice, the character…everything. Then I made the triggers. The trigger is what “causes” the aura to come alive. When you hover over the trigger the overlay pops up (in this case the Tellagami video). I used clip art for my triggers. I had a guy working out for the PE teacher, a kid playing on the computer for the computer lab. You get the idea. Each Tellagami gave the students a noun and a verb. Then the Tellagami gave them a clue to figure out where they needed to go next. My students had a chart to fill in their noun and verbs. Let me tell you something, their faces lit up each time we hovered. They loved hearing what noun and verb that particular teacher would give them. They loved figuring out the clue. So how does this fit into my curriculum? When we got back to class they took their nouns and verbs and wrote a creative story about our school. It was so cool. They worked really hard on this, and they really enjoyed it. Did it take me long to make all the auras, and triggers, and overlay? Not really. Plus, I saved them and will use them next year. I can’t wait to see where augmented reality takes us in the future.


Techer Testimonial – Superintendent Brad McEachern




My name is Brad McEachern, and I am Superintendent of Warren ISD. My wife Jana and I have been married for almost 23 years and have three children. Caitlin is at Texas A&M studying to become a teacher, while Chase is a junior and Claire is in seventh grade. My wife often accuses me of being the fourth child of the family because I am often right in the middle of many of the “disasters” in our house. I believe that you should have fun in all you do – thus; I work hard and play hard. 

As the son of a teacher and coach, I am very competitive. I want to be the best at everything I am a part of. I have tried to take that approach into everything that I do. I am also lucky that Jana is an instructional technologist for our educational service center. She is extremely good at what she does and continually motivates me to try new things. She is truly the spark behind my fire.

I spent 8 years teaching and coaching at the junior high and high school level. I was a coach who truly enjoyed my classroom. In my ninth year, I moved into an alternate dimension. I became an elementary assistant principal. I spent 9 years as a campus administrator before moving on to central office.

I am a newbie first year superintendent. As a district, we are also in our first year of our 1:1 iPad implementation. This year, our 6th and 9th grade students received iPad minis. Next year we will expand to 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th and finally have 6th-12th by our third year. Our elementary schools also have multiple iPad carts for checkout. We knew this was going to be a challenge, but I firmly believe in a glass half full approach in everything I do. I try my best to surround myself with great people and to allow them to do what they are best at. These great people consistently amaze me with what they are accomplishing on a daily basis. Carl Hooker reminded me when we started this that I needed to be patient. This is a marathon and not a race, but it is extremely hard not to sprint when I see the excitement on students’ faces as they use the new technology in their lessons. While we still have a long way to go, I see growth every day. You must take small steps before you can run. The key is to find star teachers who embrace the changes (i.e. integrating the technology into their lessons). Once I have found these teachers, my job is to make sure that they are able to do what they are great at. (And they do!) 

What I have seen this year is that other teachers who are not as comfortable with technology are becoming more willing to take new risks. We are consistently making progress. I firmly believe that success breeds success. Staying positive is a huge key! Celebrate the little successes and before long there will be bigger successes! 

Guest Post – Andi McNair

One of our second grade classes recently had the pleasure of Skyping with Angela Moses and her class at Warren Elementary.  It was so much fun and the kids enjoyed getting to know another class from another district in Texas. Angela messaged me before the Skype session and asked if we wanted the students to backchannel the session using TodaysMeet.  I have used TodaysMeet in my classroom to backchannel while reading aloud and I was very excited about the opportunity to use it again in a new way. Before we began, I went into the 2nd grade classroom and introduced TodaysMeet to the students.  We talked about appropriate conversation and meaningful comments including what was and wasn’t allowed when backchanneling.  Mrs. Craig and I made sure that all of the tablets were set to open TodaysMeet and showed the students how to “talk” and “listen”.  They were very excited and couldn’t wait to get started. Next, it was finally time to connect.  We contacted Angela’s class and started chatting.  The students had several questions for each other including “Where do you live?” and “What is your school mascot?”.  They also wanted to know about the weather, Spring Break, and book fairs.

 When we first began, our students were learning how to comment and respond.  It looked like this…

skype session.PNG

Once the students became comfortable and familiar with the format of the chat, they began to ask questions.  We allowed students to stand and ask verbal questions as well as write questions on the backchannel.

skype session 2.png


Our second grade students loved this because they felt like they were texting.  They were so excited and felt so “grown up”.  I loved watching their faces as they would get a response or as they were chosen to ask or answer questions on the Skype call. When we had completed the activity, we were able to look back at the TodaysMeet backchannel and talk about our chat.  If we had more time, we could have used this as an opportunity to discuss punctuation, sentence structure, and so much more. Mrs. Craig was excited about TodaysMeet and how she will be able to use this in her classroom in the future.  She recently decided that she is going to place a tablet on each table while reading their weekly story.  Students will be able to share questions, thoughts, and comments using TodaysMeet as they read.  This was such a fun experience for our students as well as the teachers.  It was exciting to reach outside the walls of the classroom and make new friends.  We can’t wait to chat more with Angela’s class and find new ways to connect with others all over the world.

If you are interested in connecting classrooms using Skype, please feel free to contact myself (@mcnairan3) or Angela Moses (@angelamoses) on Twitter.  We would both be more than willing to connect and learn!


Lego Robotics + Teamwork = Learning in MOTION!


Angela Moses

Warren Robotics Team

Legos are not just for collecting on your child’s bedroom floor. I have stepped on many Legos in my son’s room.  It is something my husband and son love to do together.  They just don’t get picked up and that’s ok.  Legos have become a huge part of Education.  I have used Legos to teach many concepts.  Some may say that Legos are a distraction, but I would argue differently. We all still think we are a “Toys R Us” kid at heart.  Who wouldn’t want to use Legos to learn!  I recently started a Lego Robotics team for our GT program.  Which I will admit I knew nothing about! I attended a workshop at Region 6 in Huntsville.  I was given the opportunity to build a WEDO Lego alligator. Awesome!  My first thought was…HOW??  As I started working, the fun and learning began to take over.  It is full engagement!  Lego Robotics gives students the chance to use critical thinking, teamwork, predicting, and much more.  What I really love about this is that I am learning along with the students.  We are able to collaborate and learn together.  They see that I’m not an expert.  I have let go of the control and allowed the students to teach me.  It is great to see the learning unfold.  I love that each student is challenged with each new step of the robot. We should never stop challenging our students.  On our last Robotics meeting the students began building the alligator.  I put them in groups of 4-5 from different grade levels.  What I didn’t expect was how well they would work together as a team.  They found a way to communicate, collaborate, and compromise the building of each step.  I just stepped back and watched the alligator come to life.  Their faces….priceless!  Think about what you can do in a classroom setting with the different pieces of the WEDO Lego kits.  Students can build a character, tell story, and watch it go! It is about bringing new ways to learn in an open learning environment.  It is STUDENT LED and STUDENT ENGAGEMENT!


Techer Testimonial – Jena Ball



Technical Denial by Jena Ball

I have spent most of my adult life in a love-hate relationship with technology. Trained as a graphic designer and illustrator long before anyone had heard the word Photoshop, I was appalled when I learned that people were manipulating and even creating images using a computer. My first reaction was that they were cheating. Using a machine to draw was NOT art. My second was that there is no way anyone was going to get me to cheat using those programs.

I was saved from the inevitable wake-up call by an offer to teach English in Japan. I boarded a plane and ended up in a remote, conservative town where children would gawk and follow me around whenever I set foot outside my door. For two years I taught English to adults at companies where pencils and paper were as high tech as it got. Then SONY Corporation offered me a job writing technical papers and Akio Morita’s speeches. I wasn’t wild about the idea of technical papers, but couldn’t resist the chance to meet and hob nob with Mr. Morita and his SONY co-founder Mr. Ibuka.  My days of technophobia were about to come to an abrupt end.

On my second day at SONY, a researcher arrived carrying a very large JumboTron. He placed the set on my desk and said he was there for help with a paper he was writing about the JumboTron’s CRT technology . He spoke almost no English and my Japanese lessons had not included technical jargon. For one long moment we looked at each other with dismay. Then he shrugged, opened the back of the set  started pointing at the various parts and looking up words in his dictionary. It was a long and arduous process but I learned by doing – taking things apart, pushing buttons and turning dials until I understood exactly what the TV did and why. Seeing the resulting paper in print was one of the most satisfying moments of my life, and I’m happy to say that I’ve never been intimated by technology since.

Intimidated or not, the idea of creating art with a computer program did not appeal to me.  I was in Japan almost 10 years and still hadn’t looked at Photoshop by the time I returned. I might never have learned how the program worked if it wasn’t for a Photoshop teacher who hired me to edit her book on the program. She liked my work so much that she recommended me to Osborne McGraw-Hill where I edited a series of manuals on everything from Pagemaker to Dreamweaver.

Of course writing about a program is very different from actually using it, and I might still be in denial if I hadn’t discovered what they could do for me. I now use Photoshop, Corel Draw, Autodesk Pro and a whole host of online photo and video manipulation tools like Pic Monkey, Camtasia and Animoto to get the results I want. However, it might interest you to know that each and every one of my illustrations begins with a pencil and paper. They are my favorite technical tools, hands down.

And that’s really what I have to say to anyone who is leery of technology. You must approach the programs the way you approached more traditional tools like scissors, crayons and glue sticks when you were first learning to use them. Once upon a time you had no idea how to use those tools either, but you learned. And that’s exactly how you must view technology.  Be willing, curious and selective. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that there is an endless array of gadgets out there. Find and use the ones that speak to you.

Oh, and one more thing? Never, ever drag yourself kicking and screaming to a computer screen because someone said you “should” learn something.  Learn what makes you smile at the pace that fits your schedule.  The rest will take care of itself.

About Jena
Jena is a writer, illustrator and educator with more than 35 years penning everything from technical papers and marketing collateral to personal essays and online classes for writers. Her latest endeavor is the CritterKin series of books designed to help kids learn that animals (critters) are family (kin).  She is aided and abetted in her efforts by a very large orange cat named Oscar. To learn more about Jena visit

Techer Testimonial – Lesson Crashers


The Lesson Crashers Team: Our Sessions Won’t Bore You


Do you have a lesson you want to trash? Get it Crashed!!!

We are the Lesson Crashers!, a close-knit group of innovative Instructional Technology Coaches in the Northwest Independent School District located just north of Ft. Worth, Texas.   We’re certainly a small department by the numbers, but we’ve completed some Herculean tasks this year.

One of the central concerns we identified at the beginning of this year was the challenge of getting teachers who are pressed for time actively incorporating technology in their classes.  For students, we know using technology can absolutely transform their engagement, cause achievement to soar, and create interactions that would not be possible otherwise.  For teachers, technology can reduce discipline issues, time spent grading, and the need to spoon feed students everything.  We’re confident that most educators know these facts, but we are also aware that they may struggle with implementation despite the obvious benefits.

This year on our list of items to focus on, we decided the gap between what teachers want and what they have time to do should be addressed.   We know how boring many trainings can be for some teachers.  Most WON’T remember our rushed training sessions…however, they WILL remember that we either did or did not care enough for them to stop and dress up that training session in a fun and entertaining way.  Making teachers laugh and enjoy each other’s company is the way to their heart!

Two of our coaches, Cara and Charles, had previously discussed what could be done in regard to the want vs. time issue at the high school level.  In a true experience of epiphany (details here), Charles was watching Yard Crashers on the D.I.Y. Network and it all just came together.

The Yard Crashers T.V. show usually opens up with a professional contractor/T.V. show host walking into a hardware store looking for someone who is ready to change something in or around their homes.  The host interviews a few homeowners and eventually determines the one that is ready to collaborate and carry a plan to fruition. 

The inspirational elements of the show:

  • Expert dedicates time to works on other’s dreams.
  • Participants are already in an active “ready to work” mindset.
  • Interplay of fixed goal established by homeowner and expert know-how shared by host.
  • Homeowners get their house in order, invite friends to help in the upcoming project, and get their hands dirty as they work toward their dream.
  • T.V. cameras are at the ready to glorify the epiphanies that will result as the project moves forward.
  • Known and agreed upon schedule or end in mind.
  • Known and agreed upon purpose of the transformation.
  • It’s an event.  It’s a celebration.  It’s transparent for all to see.

We took this Crasher idea and applied it to educational technology integration!  Like in the show, we collaborate with the teacher to completely blow up and reassemble their initial idea.  In a way that could not be attainable for most teachers to do on their own, we all come together in a tour de force of intention, dedication, and collaboration.

Lesson Crashers seek out great teacher leaders who have identified an area of weakness.  We work with those teachers within their time frame (it doesn’t require extra hours on the teacher’s part), work toward their goals (they remain the content experts, we just add tech swag), and offer a strong pedagogical framework to work within (student and teacher choice, focus on the outcome not on a particular tech tool, scaffold for all involved, etc.). 

This bears emphasizing: Crashing is not a prescription for weak teachers!  This is a program for self-reflective, courageous, confident teachers wanting a little help in an area they identify.  The entire Crash event is a celebration of strengths, commitment to student achievement, and the recasting of Instructional Technology in education as a team effort from top to bottom.

At all times, we try to live up to the mantra “packaging matters”.  We show our teachers that we care about them and their time by entertaining/engaging as we educate them.  We want to see them laugh and smile in the same manner that we want our teachers planning for smiles and laughs in their classrooms.  We want to make a production of the process because our teachers deserve it!

Crashing: An Abbreviated Explanation

Using Google Form we first create a form for teachers to submit their application.  The first round is a simple process that requires teachers to submit only their name, describe the lesson to be crashed, what grade they teach, and how to contact them.  We also ask that they read some fine print that details their role in the process.  To keep this within the school day, we expect teachers to give up some of their planning periods to meet with the Crash team.  Teachers also need to notify their principals that a crash may be occurring.  Finally, everyone from top to bottom is asked to keep an open mind and be flexible if they are chosen. 

This is a celebration brought to life.  We are seeking each other out and should keep that atmosphere from beginning to end.

A Google Form is then emailed to all of our district campuses and circulated by administration.  The Google Doc is also featured every so often in our very popular #NISDnov8 chat that is live from 8:30-9 pm C.S.T. every Tuesday. 

As a team, we then choose the top five lessons that were submitted to us.  Those teachers are notified and asked to create a short 2 minute video to illustrate why their lesson is the best one to Crash.  We have received some very creative videos, but the ones that stand out feature campus participation which includes administrators, teachers and students.

When a teacher is chosen, only the campus administrators are notified.  We begin brain storming what technology would work well with the lesson that was submitted.  We also contact the principals to determine a date to “Crash” the teacher’s class.  Depending on the availability of our high school media students, we show up with a student camera crew, iPads, iPhones, and any other device we can lay our hands on. 

As you can see in our “T.V. Show”, we literally stand outside of the classroom in anticipation of the crash.  When we actually Crash the room we bring bright yellow warning construction tape, hard hats, tools belts, a bullhorn, and our loudest voices.  We literally Crash the class and usually scare the bejeezus out of everyone involved.

This is an event.  This is a celebration of the teacher’s courage to invite us in.  We are celebrating the teacher’s willingness to grow and challenge herself.  It is a party that focuses on raising the rigor in the classroom via proper technology usage.  It’s a celebration of the various layers of a school district intent on making learning fun and meaningful for teachers and students.  The “Lesson Crashers” event is everything education should be.

After the crash, the hard work begins.  The Crashers meet with the teacher several times to flesh out the lesson and add technological components.  Choice is a big player in our lesson planning.  If you give them clearly stated goal and allow them to figure out how to get to those goals, we believe that kids can reach those goals in a more authentic fashion. 

Nearly everything is documented and stored away for the final video that our high school students put together.  As we meet for the Crashing, we also take notes to discuss expectations and goals so that all aspects of the lesson planning is up to our standard.  Before the final video is released we make sure the host teacher is ok with the way she and her students are portrayed.

Finally, we used the final cut of the video not only to celebrate the process of raising the standard for teachers and students in a transparent team centered environment, but also to excite the rest of the district for the next round of Crashing. 

Since our initial Crash we have Crashed faculty meetings, done mini-crashes on various lessons, and even Crashed our own presentation at TCEA this year (yes, we Crashed ourselves J).

Can you imagine having dozens of teachers in your districts asking for you to help them increase rigor and technology use in their lessons? 

Do you think this can’t happen in your district?  Either invite us in…or…Make it happen!  Video document your crash and send it to us and we’ll send you some genuine Lesson Crashers swag!

Please take these ideas, images, logos, and intentions to your district.  If you’re a teacher, “Crash” a fellow teacher’s lesson during your PLC.  If you’re an administrator, “Crash” your next faculty meeting.  If you’re a Superintendent, “Crash” your next board meeting.

At any point in your journey, ask us for help!  We seriously won’t mind helping at all.  Our contact information is below.

As this is being written, we already have a “branch” in California and another possible one starting in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Favorite Tech Tools: Doceri, Piktochart, Padlet, Aurasma, Google Everything, TimeToast, Smore, Canva, Sphere App For iPad and iPhone, and Screen Cast O Matic

Find Us:

On Twitter:

Cara Carter – @CaraCater1

Ashley Chapman – @AshChapman3

Charles Cooper – @Thrasymachus

Rene Egle – @ReneEgle

Brittany Horn – @Brit_Horn

Kirsten Wilson – @TeachKiWi

Via Email:

Cara Carter –

Ashley Chapman –

Charles Cooper –

Rene Egel –

Brittany Horn –

Kirsten Wilson –

Blog –

Charles Cooper –

Kirsten Wilson –

Upcoming Projects: What else?! We’re in the midst of another Lesson Crash (apply here even if you’re out of the district) and getting ready for the May 3rd EdCampNOV8 in Roanoke, Tx!  

Techer Testimonial-Paul Wagner


I am a South Dakota boy living a Texan life. My wife Jennifer and I moved to Texas in 1999 right after we were married and we both started teaching in Lamar Consolidated ISD. We have two wonderful children and most of our “free” time is spent driving them from one activity to another. We also enjoy spending time outdoors. Camping is our favorite pastime to do as a family.
I am an elementary teacher at heart. I spent 3 years teaching 3rd grade and 3 ½ years teaching 4th grade before accepting a job as an instructional technology specialist for the district. I service four elementary campuses each week by training, planning, modeling, and supporting the staff with their technology needs. While there are days…what job doesn’t have those…I can honestly say that I love my job. At first I was worried about leaving the classroom and not having “my kids” each year. I now realize that this job allows me to affect hundreds of children on a daily basis.
With the job I have, I get to play with many different technology tools. I think my favorites would be the iPad, the Promethean board, and ActivExpressions. The iPads are a favorite for me due to the tremendous flexibility they provide. They, of course, are great from remediation with “drill and kill” apps. Their best value, in my opinion however, is the many different avenues they provide for creation…from images and postcards to videos and books.
The interactive whiteboards are a great tool when they are utilized with the student in mind. They should not be used as a teacher resource only. The students should be the ones interacting with the board. The ActivExpressions are also amazing tools that can be used to provide immediate feedback and collect data from your classes in real time.
While I work on projects constantly with many teachers, the big project I am preparing for with the rest of my team is the INTERACT Academy we host every June. INTERACT stands for INtegrating TEchnology Realistically Among Classroom Teachers. It is a week-long training with select teachers from each campus in our district. The week is spent modeling how to integrate technology into the everyday classroom. While it is created and led by the Instructional Technology team, we do not spend time teaching the technology tool. Our main focus for the week is great teaching strategies. Marzano’s Instructional Strategies that Work and 21st Century Learning Development play key roles in our training. Technology is ever-changing…great teaching strategies, however, remain for the most part constant. The teachers learn the tool as we go, just as we would expect it to be with students in classrooms today.

When the teachers have completed the training, they are allotted a “credit” that they can use to purchase items for their classroom from the district’s “shopping cart”. We then follow up with these teachers throughout the following year and beyond to continue with training and modeling to ensure they are supported in their technology integration.

Featured Techer – Kim Allen



I have been in education for the past 20+ years and until the last year, really didn’t understand how important building a Personal Learning Network was.  Six years ago, I made the transition from Higher Education to the awesome and interesting world of K-12.  As an IT Professional, my focus was completely different.  I have always loved technology, problem solving, and all things “change.”

My love for facilitating and training began when I worked as a Technical Support Analyst in Research and Development at a local DuPont plant.  Part of my responsibility was to design and deliver educational materials for corporate technology training activities. This inspired me to learn more about the details of what made technology work, and I began a journey to explore all facets of Information Technology management. I realized there was no better environment to learn more about IT Management than in education.  Educators are always experimenting, learning new things, and discovering what does and does not work within their area of specialty.  I knew I was personally responsible for challenging my thoughts, skills, and abilities and that I must commit to being a life-long learner. 

I had the privilege of working at Lamar University, where I held a number of positions including Director of Network Services and IT Strategic Planning, and Assistant Vice President of Infrastructure and Security Services.   I realized I would have a variety of opportunities to learn about cutting edge technologies and how they contributed to the success of students, faculty, and staff.   I received my Master of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems and learned that I loved project management and planning activities.  While at Lamar, I was fortunate enough to serve on a number of Technology committees at the local, University, and Texas State University system level.  I learned so much from all of the experts with whom I served. I was inspired to incorporate as many of the “leading-edge” technologies as possible to provide students with relevant, reliable, and available resources to improve their educational experiences. 

Why is this important?  It was through the planning that I learned what was required to successfully deliver technology resources and provide the services needed to support both the educational and operational needs in an educational environment.  There are so many details that must be addressed to make a technology environment seamless to the teachers and students.  There are usually many people working behind the scenes to make the delicate balance of classroom success and the requirements of delivering technology work together for the benefit of everyone.

When I made the switch to K-12 six years ago, I spent the first few years learning the new policies, legal requirements, and jargon of a K-12 public school.  Being a Technology Director at LCM is challenging, rewarding, and a daily discovery of just how talented our employees are.  I was accustomed to “drinking water through a fire hose” and was as comfortable with that as possible.   It was change, it was challenging, it was new, it was shiny….and actually fun.  I was so focused on the delivery and making the experience good for students, faculty, and staff that I needed to rediscover the reason I chose this profession.  I came to the realization that I desperately needed a Personal Learning Network of K-12 educators to add to my current PLN.  I used a variety of tools to reach out to others and build my PLN, but it wasn’t until July of 2014 when I attended the ISTE conference in San Antonio that I realized the power of my PLN. 

My favorite part of the conference was the informal sessions where students were presenters and experts shared their knowledge in a small personal environment.  I had so many questions, and the presenters were so patient and willing to share what had worked well and not so well for them.  I appreciated the honesty.  There is really no opportunity for failure in Information Technology Management, a failure means someone is without a service that is necessary for student success.

I looked at Technology through different eyes, with a different focus.  I questioned my peers, experts in my PLN, even my grandchildren.  I got Minecraft advice from a nine and ten year old, learned about apps from a two year old, and had a contest posting vacation photos to Instagram.  Seeing transformation in family was inspiring, knowing that it was happening in our classrooms made it more meaningful.

The new focus quickly led me back to my PLN.  My favorite way to connect with my PLN is through Twitter Chats.  Although fast-paced, the chats provide a great opportunity for information sharing and building PLNs, as well as best practices for delivering technology. Questions can be answered quickly, and someone always knows the answer to the question, or is connected to someone who does.  Our awesome LCM Administrators started the year with an admin chat to facilitate building PLN’s and prepare for upcoming Professional Development activities.  We now have a number of LCM faculty and staff participating in the Region 5 chat, #reg5chat, and communication and collaboration activities are increasing in our classrooms.  This has been an unforgettable year.  I can’t wait to see the continual progress in our District and throughout our region.

My Favorite Tech Tools:

Hoot Suite, TweetCaster, Instagram, Pinterest, ScoopIt, Office 365, and Evernote.    

Find me:

On Twitter: @kallen214

By Email:

On Pinterest:

Upcoming projects:  Office 365 implementation and training, planning for our District bond activities, ongoing PD for district faculty and staff, and the continual quest for learning in order to share with others.


So I spoke at a Career Fair: By Daisy Marino

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to speak to around forty high school students that wish to pursue a career in education. I was supposed to answer questions like how much do you get paid, what is the retirement like and how many years do you go to school? However, I did not answer those questions. They can Google that, and trust me they know how. Instead, I told them about the stuff that you can’t Google. I laid it all out on the table. I told them what every pre-service teacher needs to hear but doesn’t. I told them about the hungry kids, sick kids, neglected kids and abused kids. I told them about the kids whose parents are in rehab or getting divorced. About the parents that would rather play video games than help their own child with homework. I told them about the kids that don’t have working restrooms in their houses or the ones that move five times in one month. We talked about the kids who are tardy because their guardian wouldn’t get out of bed. Then they get in trouble for it when it’s not something they can control. I told them how my husband’s 5th grade teacher changed his entire life. And then I asked them how they were going to change up their classroom to accommodate these students. How are they going to differentiate their instruction to make sure that these children with other major problems are still successful?  This is where a true teacher shines. Can you do this? Can you figure all of this out and somehow get students to do what the state wants you to do…pass the TEST?  When students are suffering, malnourished and neglected their focus is not on school. How are we as educators going to get them interested? How are we going to show them a different way of life? We need to create life-long learners all the while being sympathetic and embracing whatever new circumstance comes our way. We need to differentiate instruction for all, for the sole reason of reaching each and every student in our classroom. No matter what “label” has been placed on a student every child deserves a teacher that will be their biggest advocate. The students at the career fair asked me if the actual teaching part was hard. I told them the “teaching” is the easy part. It’s everything else that is hard. Teachers are not just teachers. Our real job is so much more than that. We have to be the person in their life who is going to fight for their education so that one day they have the strength and courage to change their circumstances. The end goal is to create happy, well-rounded community members. Adults that will in turn make a difference in society. If you are in this for the summers off, my plead to you is don’t do this. Work in a different field. You can not convince me that true teachers are not called from God. I want passionate teachers teaching my kids, my grandkids, and my nieces and nephews. I want teachers that are going to go the extra mile no matter the pay, no matter the circumstances and no matter the absolute heart break. You are either in or you are out. There is no in between in this profession.

Skyping with an author


Mrs. Marino’s 4th grade class

Being a connected educator has been awesome beyond belief, but my absolute favorite moment of this new roller coaster ride happened this past week. My sweet friend (Sara Moore) that teaches high school English connected me with Jena Ball and Marty Keltz. Jena is the creator of Critterkin, a precious book series about how animals are in fact our family. Marty is also a founder of Critterkin and an Emmy award winning producer. Have you ever heard of The Magic School Bus or Goosebumps….yeah, that’s Marty. These two amazing people are teaming up with schools to teach children the importance of being kind and many other characteristic traits that we definitely want out students to know about. Our school has a Family Reading Night once a month. We decided that this would be the perfect reading for February. We met in the library and Jena and Marty Skyped in to read to our students. What a fabulous opportunity for our students to have a real author read her book aloud to them! It was a very proud moment for our entire school. The students were beaming, the admin. was ecstatic and I was on cloud nine. Jena and Marty captivated the kids with their sweet story, funny antics and New York accent (Marty). Because the evening was so successful, we decided to take this a step further. The next week Jena Skyped back in with my entire 4th grade to talk even more about what it means to be kind. Jena had already communicated with the local Humane Society on how our school could help out. She then sent me images of all the dogs that are currently available for adoption at the local shelter. We assigned every student their own dog. This helped the students make a connection with the sweet puppies. Jena then captivated 55 4th graders as she taught them how to draw a dog. You could have heard a pin drop! You talk about engaging your students. They were intent on doing a great job. You see, Jena had already told them that their pictures would be passed on to the shelter and would help these animals get adopted. You want students to be engaged? Give them a purpose. You want students to learn? Give them something to be passionate about. Our students went on to write persuasive paragraphs on why their dog should be adopted. We are now in the process of scanning the images so that Jena may send them on to the Humane Society. So once again, that you Twitter for allowing me to be connected. Because If I am connected, that means my students are. Thank you Jena and Marty for absolutely engaging and inspiring 55 4th graders. That is no easy task!!!  Much love to both of you.